Thursday , Apr , 01 , 2010 C.Y. Ellis

Kittles could flourish with Clippers

By Warren Blatt, Sports Network NBA Editor

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) – When the Los Angeles Clippers decided
that they were not going to match the Phoenix Suns’ offer sheet to restricted
free agent Quentin Richardson, acquiring a starting shooting guard became the
top priority.

The Clippers were fortunate enough to acquire Kerry Kittles and cash
considerations on July 29 from the New Jersey Nets in exchange for a future
second-round draft pick.

The 30-year-old Kittles is a seven-year veteran. He was originally selected
out of Villanova by the Nets in the first round (eighth pick overall) of the
1996 NBA Draft. The 6-5 Kittles is able to play either guard position and is
happy to be a member of the Clippers.

“I was excited (about being traded to the Clippers,” Kittles said. “Obviously
New Jersey was going in a different direction. I had eight great years there
and to come back from a career threatening injury with me knee was important
for me. I’m 30-years-old now and I’ve had some success with playing in some
big games back east and now I’m on a totally different team and it’s exciting.
It’s a team that hasn’t had much success in the past but hopefully I can bring
something to this team and add some inspiration and win some games.”

The Clippers know that they have a guard who adds versatility to their roster.
Kittles gives head coach Mike Dunleavy the option of shuffling his lineup to
cause matchup problems for the opposition. Kittles’ ability to play multiple
positions is a big positive for LA.

“Well that’s up to the coach (where Kittles will play),” said Clippers vice
president of basketball operations Elgin Baylor. “He can play some point guard
and he can handle the basketball. Defensively he’s going to help us because
the coach is going to do a lot of pressing. His outside shooting is going to
help us also. Kerry’s character and chemistry I like and his leadership and
playoff experience is also a plus. He has a lot of knowledge which will be
beneficial to our players.”

Kittles, averaged 13.1 points, four rebounds and 2.5 assists in 82 games for
New Jersey in 2003-04. He plays tough defense and is a career 37.8 percent
shooter from three-point range.

“One reason we liked Kerry was defense,” said Baylor. “Last year we were 27th
in the league on defense. Offensively we were one of the top scoring teams in
the league. We had leads but had trouble keeping them. Kerry’s defense is a
quality that was very attractive to us and he’s going to make us a better
defensive team.”

With 25-year-old Elton Brand and 24-year-old Corey Maggette already in place,
the Clippers have added a solid veteran in Kittles, who has played in two NBA
Finals and has participated in 54 playoff contests during his career. Brand
and Maggette have never been to the postseason during their time in the
league.

“I’ve talked to Corey and he’s excited,” said Kittles. “I was with Corey and
Elton when they were rookies so I remember those guys when they first came
in.”

The 6-8 Brand will start at the power forward, while Maggette will fill the
small forward spot. The two Duke products are budding stars and should fit in
very well with the veteran Kittles.

Having a player like Kittles, who has been through the pressures of playoff
basketball in the NBA, should help the youthful Clippers strive to become a
more seasoned squad.

“My experience speaks for itself,” said Kittles. “If young guys are willing to
listen and ask questions about the game I’ll help them, that’s what I’m here
for. I won’t be in their face yelling at them but if they want to learn I will
always help them.”

Can the Clippers, who won just 28 games last season, turn it around quickly?

“I think we’ll have our ups and downs just like every team does,” said
Kittles. “But I think it depends on how fast we mesh and how fast our young
guys mature. Our learning curve will be very important and we’ll see how well
we plug in. I think we’ll be competitive and compete every night and have a
real chance to win down the stretch.”

Richardson’s athleticism and scoring will be missed, but Kittles may just be
the type of player that LA needed. Kittles knows what it takes to win in the
NBA and could flourish as the new leader of the Clippers.